New Roof or Roof Repair?
To repair or reroof? That is the question… Keeping a roof over your head can be tough enough, but if yours has been damaged or is simply getting old, deciding whether to repair or replace it opens up a whole new can of worms. How do you know when it’s time to patch things up, or just tear the lid off and put on a new one? We’ve assembled some simple guidelines to help make your decision-making process easier.
Keep it simple
Don’t shell out thousands for a new roof when repairs may be in order. A properly-installed roof less than 20 years old may simply be a candidate for some TLC. Unless yours is in extremely poor condition (ex: bad decking, deteriorating shingles, serious water issues), repairs will take less time and cost loads less than installing a whole new roof. If you are unsure of what to do, consult a licensed contractor for their professional opinion.
Weigh the pros and cons
Both repairing and reroofing have their ins and outs. Repairs will take less time and mean less spent on labor, materials, and disposal. Unfortunately, the lifespan of the materials used will be about 25% shorter than if used in a new installation. Have a new roof installed, and you may enjoy the protection of a warranty for materials, labor, or both. You also won’t need to worry about reroofing again for a long time to come.
Don’t wait too long
If minor repairs can be carried out before a major rebuild is necessary, don’t procrastinate. Why wait until water is pouring into your home through cracks you could have taken care of months ago? Wait too long and you might not have any choice but to replace the entire surface.
A material world
Roofing materials have different life expectancies. Knowing what yours is made of can give you a better idea of whether it is time to replace it.
- Cedar – (About 20 years) Wetness encourages moss growth while dryness leads to cracking and crumbling, so condition will be affected by climate conditions
- Wood – (About 30 years) May last longer in places with moderate weather
- Asphalt – (20-50 years) Most asphalt shingles last around 20 years, but top-quality versions may be rated for up to 50
- Metal – (40-80 years)
- Tile (Concrete/Slate/Clay) – (100 years or more) While tiles may crack on occasion, most are long-lasting and virtually worry free
Take it from the top
Check the condition of your roof from the inside out. Grab a flashlight and head for the attic. While it’s still dark, check to see if there is any light coming in from the outside and then use your lamp to scan for leaks, water damage, or sagging. Make sure that dryer vents lead outside …not just into your attic space. On the exterior, missing or damaged shingles should be the first thing to grab your attention. Look for wear around chimneys, pipes, or other openings. Also check for signs of moisture, mold or rot, and make sure that downspouts and gutters are properly attached and debris-free. Don’t forget to examine gutters for a large build-up of shingle granules which indicate advanced wear.
The layered look
If your roof consists of a single or double layer of shingles, and your decking is in good repair, it may not be necessary to replace the whole thing. However, if multiple layers of shingles have been slapped on over the years, your best is to strip them off and recover the surface. Because shingles add weight to a roof, building codes in most areas allow two layers (which should do the job just fine). However, areas which receive extended periods of strong rain or winds may allow three layers for added protection. Check local regulations and consult a contractor to decide if a repair or reroof is in order.
Heed the warning signs
Keeping your eyes open can help you spot trouble and allow you to take action before small problems turn into big ones. Blistering and peeling exterior paint or deterioration of siding and sheathing can be signs that your roof needs some attention ASAP. Leaks in the attic after periods of heavy rain or ice buildup are signs of trouble which will only get worse if not addressed properly. Interior ceilings and walls which display stain of signs of mold and mildew are also a cause for concern.
Handy vs. foolhardy
If you are fairly handy and not afraid of heights, you may be able to carry out minor repairs such as replacing a damaged shingle or gluing down a curling one yourself. Performing small repairs can save you money and extend the life of your existing roof. If however, a new roof is in order and you’re not a professional contractor, you’ll want to hire one because reroofing an entire house is a large and potentially dangerous undertaking. (Case in point: a neighbor who fell from his roof breaking both legs so badly that one required amputation. ) It’s always better to be safe than sorry!